The last time Kentucky visited Stegeman Coliseum, Rhyne Howard put up 25 points and four 3-pointers. She did it again against the Bulldogs.
This time, the Wildcats leading scorer secured 27 points with a 10-of-16 shooting effort and a perfect 4-of-4 mark beyond the arc.
Howard’s performance led Kentucky to a 62-58 win over Georgia women's basketball in the Bulldogs’ final home game of the season.
“This was about Kentucky having an exceptional player and the players around her doing what they were supposed to do,” said head coach Joni Taylor. “They pressured us and we didn't like it. When we were out of sink offensively, it was because of their pressure. They forced us to run our offense two or three steps further beyond the three point line than we wanted to, they got their hands on balls, so this was about Kentucky and what they did and what we didn’t do.”
Senior Jenna Staiti had 16 points on the night but it wasn't enough to contest Howard and the Wildcats' offense.
“We did it to ourselves. We were turning the ball over, rushed by offense, and making some defensive mistakes,” Staiti said. “I think we came out with really good energy in the third quarter but couldn’t come out on top.”
The intensity of the top-20 matchup was evident in the first half as both the Wildcats and Bulldogs matched each other’s efforts in almost every category.
With 18 possessions, each team scored eight times and went 3-for-5 in layups. In rebounds, both put up four points, though the Cats edged the Bulldogs with one more offensive rebound. Shooting 44.4%, four fouls from each side allowed four opportunities at the basket that kept a one-point Bulldog deficit.
The foul troubles continued as the second half began with the Bulldogs’ fifth foul, sending Chasity Patterson to the line. After a fast break point from Mikayla Coombs’ steal, the Wildcats matched that with their own led by Robyn Benton. Howard showed just why she leads Kentucky in scoring as she highlighted a 7-0 run with two jumpers and a 3-pointer with just under four minutes remaining.
Only posting a 28.6% shooting effort, the Bulldogs went 1-for-8 with 4:18 remaining in the second quarter. The Wildcats extended their run to 13-3 with a last second shot beyond the arc from Patterson. Kentucky outscored the Bulldogs 19-8 as Georgia went into the locker room down by 10.
Que Morrison led a 12-5 run with 5:57 remaining in the third quarter with a reverse layup and a shot beyond the arc. The Bulldogs outscored the Wildcats 20-18 but couldn’t stop Howard as she had seven points and put up a 3-pointer that extended Kentucky’s lead to 10 with just under two minutes. The Wildcats maintained the lead as Howard put up a big 3-pointer at 1:43 that extended Kentucky’s lead to 10.
Senior Gabby Connally made a 3-pointer with under seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to help the Bulldogs, but Howard continued to be a problem. Putting up the only points for the Wildcats until the last four seconds, Howard had eight points which was enough to outlast the Bulldogs.
Georgia’s regular season finale will take place in Gainesville, Florida, Sunday afternoon against Florida at 1 p.m.
“We are coming down to the end of our SEC schedule but you have to have a short memory when you have to prepare for the next game in this league,” Taylor said. “You walk into Sunday still thinking about tonight, you are 10 points behind, and you are on the road, so you are 20 points behind.”